The bracket projections ended Sunday night. Now it’s time for actual NCAA tournament game projections. In this case, missing only two (games) would be, well, unbelievable. And no, I don’t expect that to happen. For better or worse, here are some thoughts and picks for the 2012 NCAA tournament – including a rematch between Kentucky and Duke in the Regional Final.
Favorite: Kentucky. The Wildcats enter March Madness as the No. 1 overall seed.
Dark Horse: Connecticut. Back in November, the Huskies were a projected Top 10 team. They haven’t played at that level very often, but the talent is certainly in place.
Best chances for an upset: Xavier over Notre Dame. South Dakota State over Baylor. Notre Dame shot the ball well during its mid-season run, but that hasn’t been the case down the stretch. Tu Holloway and Mark Lyons are more than capable of taking out the Irish. South Dakota State went to Washington – the Pac-10 regular season champ – and dismantled the Huskies. While Baylor should win, the Bears aren’t always the best at closing out games. Read more…
Regardless of how the final selections come together tonight, the Selection Committee has completed a monumental task. There has rarely been a field this diverse and a bubble this large. We could see a variety of outcomes, and none of them will necessarily be wrong or right – or for that matter surprising. That’s the truth about this year’s bubble.
What we know – or anticipate – is that Kentucky will be the No. 1 overall seed. Syracuse will be second. After that, there remains some questions. We have Kentucky, Syracuse, North Carolina and Michigan State on the top line. That could switch pending the outcome of the Michigan State/Ohio State game in the actual selection room.
FINAL 2012 BRACKET PROJECTION - Bracketology
Take your pick out of the at-large teams. There were roughly 14 teams about 6 spots. You could make cases for or against any number of them. None of the profiles were particularly good. Ultimately, a win or here or there will be the difference. There were also plenty of injuries for which to account, on many teams.
Enjoy the Selection Show. March Madness is here.
After losing to Louisville on Wednesday, Seton Hall joins Drexel, Iona, Oral Roberts, and Middle Tennessee State as nervous at-large hopefuls. West Virginia is in that group, too, but is a little more secure heading into action on Thursday and Friday. Connecticut helped its case by beating the Mountaineers. With 10 Top 100 RPI wins, it’s looking more and more likely that the Huskies will be able to defend their NCAA title. South Florida kept its at-large hopes alive by beating Villanova. USF matches up with Notre Dame tonight (Thursday).
March 8 Bracket Projection – Bracketology
Not a lot has changed since Monday’s bracket. Seton Hall remains in the field as a First Four participant in Dayton. They are matched against Xavier. St. Joseph’s and Drexel are the other First Four at-large teams. With this grouping, regular-season rematches were unavoidable. The First Four could look much different come Saturday morning. The next two days will be critical for teams like Northwestern, Texas, South Florida, Dayton, St. Joseph’s, Miami-Fla, NC State, and Oregon.
Enjoy two full days of great March hoops!
With a little help from Ohio State Sunday afternoon in East Lansing, North Carolina grabs the final No. 1 seed in our latest bracket projection. We’re one week from Selection Sunday. Kentucky continues to own the No. 1 overall seed and stays in the South. Syracuse (East) and Kansas (Midwest) hold the other two positions. Ohio State, Michigan State, and Duke are still alive in the No. 1 seed chase. Missouri would need a little more help. Those four are your two-seeds heading into conference tournament play, and it’s somewhat unlikely to change unless Marquette were to win the Big East championship.
March 5 Bracket Projection – Bracketology
What can be said about the bubble that hasn’t already been noted? Teams being considered for the final at-large spots all have significant flaws. Hopefully, conference tournament play will help sort a few of those issues out. When teams are broken down, there is a fair amout of subjectivity involved. What is most important to each voting member of the Selection Committee? That’s a question only those folks in the room know for sure.
One addition to our Last 5 IN is Tennessee. Yes, the Volunteers are just 17-13, but they did claim the No. 2 seed in the SEC tournament. It’s also worth noting that Tennessee is 10-5 with freshman Jarnell Stokes, who joined the team in early January. He is averaging 9.1 points and 7.5 rebounds per game in those 15 contests and Tennessee is a different team with him in the lineup. Losses to Oakland, Charleston, and Austin Peay occurred before he arrived. It will be interesting to see how the Committee handles that information. Given Tennessee’s two wins over Florida, and victories over Vanderbilt, Connecticut, and Mississippi, UT slides into the First Four. They likely need a couple of wins in New Orleans to hold their spot – depending on what happens around them.
One note: As automatic bids are now being awarded, teams listed in CAPS will signify teams that have actually clinched an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, rather than the projected champion. Exceptions are made for teams that normally uses abbreviations (UNLV, BYU, etc). The highest seed remaining in a conference tournament is used as the projected champion if the bid has not been determined.
Our current NCAA tournament bubble isn’t necessarily any weaker, but it certainly isn’t shrinking. Games this weekend should help clear up a few spots – although it hasn’t happened yet. Right now, there are 25 teams listed as projected locks, with another seven teams in strong position to claim a bid (Should Be In). When you add in the 31 automatic qualifers (minus projected locks), that leaves us with about 16 spots. Some of the bubble teams are in stronger position than others.
March 3 Bubble Banter update.
A few quick thoughts about the weekend …
- Connecticut and Mississippi State are the two BCS teams currently in our bracket that most need victories this weekend. Connecticut hosts Pittsburgh and Mississippi State hosts Arkansas.
- Cincinnati should punch its ticket by winning at Villanova. A loss would make the Bearcats’ Big East tournament opener more important.
- Northwestern needs to win its game at Iowa, but that won’t be easy. The Hawkeyes have been a tough out at home.
- Washington can wrap up a Pac-12 title by winning at UCLA. That won’t guarantee the Huskies a spot, but it would certainly help.
- Virginia travels to Maryland with a two-game losing streak. A loss would drop the Cavaliers to 8-8 in the ACC and make UVA’s opening round ACC tournament game much more intense.
Enjoy a weekend of college hoops. Several teams will punch NCAA dance tickets.